When a business is no longer seen as a start-up, it’s usually ready for scaling. A team is in place and the revenue model is working sustainably. The management can predict that revenue will jump by a certain multiple through scaling. The business can use these tangibles to raise revenue to hire new employees, marketing in new regions and newer channels, open new branches, or increase production.
A strong accounting system and positive cash flows are great indicators of a business’s ability to scale. However, the IT department must be equally ready to support the demands on the business because of the increased level of activity. How can you tell that your IT department is ready for scaling?
Recruiting the Right Staff Before Scaling
A great predictor for the success of IT departments is the manner of hiring talent. The people in the IT department should be qualified for their roles. Small businesses sometimes must bootstrap due to limited resources and one person takes on a whole department, learning on the go. However, when scaling, it’s important to have a qualified enough team to handle technical matters that may arise. A trial-and-error approach method might lead to too much bleeding of investors’ cash before eventually getting things rights.
A clear structure is also important in the IT department whereby job titles are given with clear specifications. This makes it easier to hire replacements when someone leaves while ensuring continuity in projects. The department also needs policies that guide how people work so that new entrants have something to buy into. This will help the organization intentionally maintain its chosen identity, working methods, and culture.
Let the IT Team Buy In
Besides just recruiting, scaling requires the IT department members to buy into the long-term vision of the business. Allow them to make contributions on their thoughts on how best to support the growth of the business. Sharing the vision allows them to envision new roles that might arise so that they can prepare for them. They will see their career progression as aligned with the company’s growth. Having the support of the team makes it easier for senior management to assign roles.
Accountability, Teamwork, and Chain of Command
It’s also important that one person does not hog all the responsibility because it will eventually wear them down or slow down the entire department. Division of responsibility is also important for internal controls over resources and key infrastructure. One person should not have sole access to all administrator passwords or custody so all hardware infrastructure. Redundancy is important, not just for information systems, but the workforce as well.
Cross-training is vital for scaling. Allowing staff within the IT department to have stints in various roles within the department ensures there is a wide enough pool of skills within the department. Such a department is ready for the new roles that might crop up as demands on the department grow.
Clear lines of communication must exist. This creates a structured manner of supervision, reporting, and solving problems. This is important because scaling requires organization and separation of issues. If people are working as teams, the team leader should report on behalf of the team to senior management.
Refining Business Processes
In preparation for scaling, a business should monitor its internal processes to highlight inefficiencies or potential areas of improvement. What journey do customers go through or what does it take to complete an order? If something can be done faster or at a cheaper cost, then it might be prudent to make the change in preparation for scaling. This will often involve the IT department coding a solution or implementing some automation.
IT infrastructure and Training for Scaling
Besides the talent and management structure, scaling requires sufficient investment in hardware and software. The systems in place should have the capacity to handle increased traffic, where third parties interact with the business online. Most organizations today rely on some form of cloud computing and therefore the organizations must procure sufficient capacity to match the demand. Mission-critical systems must be scalable. If not, the business risks backtracking after making ground in acquiring new business. It’s best to upgrade hardware and software before going out on an expansion and marketing mission. When relying on an external vendor, there should be sufficient reason to expect that the vendor will provide support and upgrades of the software down the road.
Preparing for Disaster
Scaling massively increases the amount of risk that an organization bears in case of a disaster that affects IT systems. This might include a malware attack, a fire, or a natural calamity. To prepare for these, it’s vital to have in place strict security procedures. Data needs to be backed up as regularly as possible while the cloud storage provider should be reliable. Robust security systems help a business build a reputation of reliability by maintaining maximum uptime over an extended period. The internal IT team needs to constantly monitor potential threats as the business scales and implement proper preventive measures.
Succeeding in Scaling
It’s not possible to anticipate everything that comes with scaling a business, but it is possible to prepare sufficiently. Management eventually figures out the optimal structure for the IT department. Some teams may be dismantled, and new roles created. Scaling means that the workload will increase, new staff will come in and more resources will be necessary to run the department.
Scaling the IT department prepares the business to handle the demands that will be put on it. Increased amounts of data, more transactions, and more web traffic require sufficient capacity to sustain. The IT infrastructure provides the bedrock for proper scaling.
If your organization needs assistance in scaling your IT department, get in touch with Transcendent Software. We have experience in helping businesses set up and properly use the IT infrastructure.